Serena cruises to final, Venus no match for Kerber

While defending champion Serena Williams demolished Elena Vesnina in the first semifinal in 48 minutes, sister Venus came up short against an in-form Angelique Kerber.

Serena Williams..."I am just more confident and calm. That doesn’t mean that I am not competitive."   -  Getty Images

Sport at the highest level is a brutal, unforgiving business. The sweetest of dreams can turn into a diabolical nightmare. And sport seldom cares about how many fanciful scripts are torn apart.

It was too much, then, to have imagined that two of the best known sisters in modern sport, Serena Williams and Venus Williams, with a collective age of more than 70 — Venus is 36 and her younger sister is 34 — would contest the final of the 130th Wimbledon tennis championships on Saturday — 14 eventful years after they first played each other here for Grand Slam silverware.

Yet, if there were some who desperately hoped that it wasn’t an impossible mission, then a left-handed German who stunned Serena to win the Australian Open in January this year — Angelique Kerber — proved that the more seemingly exotic and unrealistic the dream is, the sooner it dies.

Running down everything and less angelic and more devilish as she punished the least of Venus’s mistakes, the 28-year old deservedly earned another chance to put a smile on her great idol Steffi Graf’s face.

And not for the first time, Venus looked her age as her body language suggested that the climb was one step too many before Kerber concluded her free-flowing patch of baseline brilliance with a breathtaking forehand crosscourt pass that joyously flirted with the net before landing on the other side, far away from Venus.

Thankfully for Venus, it ended her misery as Kerber won 6-4, 6-4, but the match itself was even more lopsided than the scoreline suggests.

Kerber now has a much bigger task on her hands, both of which are put to use like hand in glove when she is at her best. If the fourth seed is to win her second Grand Slam title of the year, she has the monumental task of beating Serena Williams for a second time in a Major final this year.

Confident Serena

They used to say in the old days, when Venus was much younger, that if one Williams sister does not get you, the other one will. Serena would surely hope that this is still true. And the kind of awe-inspiring form Serena displayed on Thursday to outclass Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-2, 6-0 clearly establishes her as the favourite in the final.

“I am just more confident and calm. That doesn’t mean that I am not competitive,” said Serena.

Earlier, even if Vesnina, world ranked 50, had stepped on the court already having lost the match in her mind, she could at least have engaged one of the all-time greats of the game for at least an hour. But she fell short by 12 minutes.

As Grand Slam semifinals go, there could not have been too many that were wrapped up by the winner sooner than the top-seeded defending champion did.

Surely, from the time they started time-keeping in matches at Wimbledon, this was by far the quickest. It wasn’t a match as much as it was a massacre. Having lost two finals to younger and lower-ranked opponents — at Melbourne and then at Paris — Serena seemed so focussed that it is going to take a lot to stop her from pulling along with Graf. The German won 22 Majors and Serena is just one short.

Vesnina was quite frank at the post-match press conference. “Probably I felt I had no chance today first of all. I felt like Serena was playing really good. She was in a great mood and the serve was working very well for her,” said the 29-year-old Russian.

Serena was asked if she believed that she could come up with such an emphatic victory. “No, absolutely not,’’ she said. “It wasn’t anything that was super easy. I was very intense the whole time. I ran and worked hard. I served well and moved well.

“The scoreline just reflected me doing what I know I can do,” said the 21-time Grand Slam singles champion.

It was near faultless tennis from Serena as she served rocks, hardly made any unforced errors and perhaps made Vesnina want to quickly disappear from the court.

A section of the media has been so obsessed with Serena’s physical attributes, particularly her muscularity — all of which has a tinge of racism — that few fans believe that power, athleticism, grace and beauty can go together. Athletic power can never be married to aesthetic sensibility is the general belief.

But everybody who thinks that is wrong. Serena now and Venus at her prime have proved how ridiculous that conclusion can be.

As for the final, it is certainly going to be a lot tougher for Serena than it was on Thursday. Kerber is playing the best tennis of her career and she is six years younger. It does seem to have the makings of a thriller — fingers crossed.